Latest on Phil Kessel, Eric Staal, Ryan O’Reilly, Drew Stafford, Eddie Lack and more.
Highlights from Friedman’s “30 Thoughts.”
Note: My response is in italics.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates over the possibility of teams seeking a top prospect defenseman in this year’s draft trying to trade up in the draft order by pursuing the Arizona Coyotes’ first-round pick (third overall). He suggests Columbus and Colorado as two potential candidates.
Teams seeking defensemen might consider the LA Kings’ farm team, the Manchester Monarchs. Blueliners Colin Miller and Derek Forbort played well during the Monarchs run to the 2015 Calder Cup championship.
The Vancouver Canucks could trade a goaltender but it won’t be starter Ryan Miller. If they shop backup Eddie Lack it won’t necessarily be for a second-round pick.
The Buffalo Sabres need a goalie and have two second-round picks in this year’s draft, one of which is 31st overall. Considering the Sabres also have two picks in the first round, perhaps the Canucks could pry that 31st away from the Sabres?
New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot could be the top choice for a cap-friendly potential starting goalie.
The Detroit Red Wings could seek a physical defenseman to help alleviate the workload of Niklas Kronwall.
Nothing new to report regarding contract discussions between the Carolina Hurricanes and captain Eric Staal and staring goalie Cam Ward. Both have a year left on their contracts. Friedman speculates they might be willing to stay for lesser amounts than their current annual cap hits ($8.25 million for Staal, $6.3 million for Ward) but isn’t sure how much of a pay cut is agreeable.
Given Ryan O’Reilly’s UFA status next summer and history of contentious contract negotiations with the Colorado Avalanche, the Avs are willing to listen to offers for the center. Friedman suspects if the Avs trade him they’ll want at least a significant defenseman in return.
Just because they’re listening doesn’t mean O’Reilly’s a goner. It’s worthwhile to test the trade market now as late-June is typically when most of the NHL’s offseason deals take place.
The Calgary Flames are currently the most aggressive in the trade market right now. While they have plenty of cap space, they won’t do anything that jeopardizes their efforts to re-sign Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano. Winger Jiri Hudler is a year away from UFA status, but given the season he just had, it’ll take a significant offer to pry him out of Calgary.
So, no Phil Kessel to Calgary? I mention that because Friedman recently wondered if the Flames could be a trade destination for the Leafs winger.
The Winnipeg Jets and winger Drew Stafford (a pending UFA) are working toward a new contract.
Stafford meshed quickly with the Jets following his arrival from Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal. Don’t be surprised if he stays in Winnipeg.
Friedman originally believed the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers might attempt to acquire Toronto’s Phil Kessel but now thinks cap reasons and the need to re-sign key players takes them out of the running.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently listed the eight clubs which were on Kessel’s preferred trade destination list this season. The Predators and Panthers weren’t on that list. Maybe that changes this summer if Kessel submits an updated list or the Leafs ask him to broaden it, but I have my doubts the Predators or Panthers will pursue him. As Friedman observed, the Predators must soon re-sign young stars Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones. The Panthers acquisition and re-signing of Jaromir Jagr likely takes them out of the market for a scoring winger. Despite his age, Jagr played very well with young linemates Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.
The San Jose Sharks attempted to sign Niklas Hjalmarsson away from the Chicago Blackhawks via offer sheet in 2010. Friedman wonders if they might target the ‘Hawks again this summer or another cap-strapped club.
Can’t rule anything out. Bear in mind, however, any player they target on those teams has to be willing to accept an offer sheet.
Updates on the Canadiens and Red Wings.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels speculates over which players the Montreal Canadiens could move to free up salary-cap space. They have $65.3 million invested in 19 players for next season. Given that over $28 million of that is invested in defensemen, Engels suggests Tom Gilbert (who has a year left on his contract at $2.8 million) or Alexei Emelin (three years left, $4.1 million cap hit) as potential trade candidates. Forwards could include Tomas Plekanec (one year left, $5 million cap hit), David Desharnais (two years left, $3.5 million cap hit) or Lars Eller (three years left, $3.5 million).
Plekanec would be the most attractive, thought the Habs will miss his two-way play. Emelin has a full no-trade clause, which (combined with his salary) could make him tough to move. Eller might attract interest if there’s a GM out there who believes he’s being misused by the Canadiens and could blossom elsewhere.
Damien Cox reports the Detroit Red Wings weren’t willing to move their 2015 first-round pick and prospect forward Anthony Mantha earlier this season but are now willing to do so.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Wings GM Ken Holland responded to Cox’s report, saying ” “I don’t think ‘willing’ is the right word.” Holland added, “I’m not going to tell you where Mantha fits in with that until we explore the trade market.”
For what it’s worth, last week on Norm Rumack’s SiriusXM show, I had the opportunity to speak with Red Wings senior VP Jimmy Devallano. I asked him about his recent critical comments (noted in the link to Cox’s report) regarding the young forward’s development. Devallano claimed his remarks were intended to motivate the youngster and shouldn’t be taken to mean Mantha has no future with the Wings.